Scotland boasts many idyllic west coast islands, in fact, some are so beautiful that many Caribbean Islands are lucky enough to be compared to them. With expansive sandy beaches, rugged cliff faces and clear turquoise blue seas its no wonder visiting these Island distilleries is really not much of a chore.
The majority of Scotlands island distilleries fall into the region of Highland, as Island is not a recognised Scotch region. The only exception to this is Islay, as this is Island is iconic and important enough to have its own region.
Island distilleries are some of the oldest in existence with a few having established dates in the late 18th and early 19th century, namely Bowmore (1779), Jura (1810), Laphroaig (1815), and Tobermory (1798). Thankfully these distilleries are all still operating today but not without some financial and turbulent periods along the way.
Over the last year or two, we have visited the islands of Islay, Jura and Arran, so a visit to the volcanic island of Mull was long overdue and coupled with the mini heatwave currently sweeping Scotland we decided it was time to get on the 45 minutes Cal Mac ferry from Oban to Mull.
The distillery in Tobermory is currently in the middle of a massive refurbishment instructed by new owners Distell. They are replacing two of their four stills, all four washbacks are being replaced and they are also installing a new larger gin still to cope with the demand of their new Gin - Tobermory Gin. The distillery is estimated to begin production again in late summer, never the less, tours were still operating and visitors were still queuing for a glimpse inside this tiny harbour distillery.
The distillery is situated right on the harbour, near the picturesque coloured houses that are synonymous with the town. The distillery occupies a tiny amount of land with zero space for expansion as it's surrounded on all four sides with either buildings, the sea or a rock face. However, the distillery holds its charm from days past as many of the buildings are original. The visitor's shop was stocked with many distillery exclusives from both expressions, Ledaig and Tobermory from many different casks, including Rioja, Marsala and Oloroso. But, not to be missed is their range of branded Angels' Share Glassware; they had on display whisky baubles, whisky filled angels and whisky water droppers.
It is a privilege to have all these distilleries so close to home and after visiting Mull it is very obvious that we must make more of an effort to travel a little further afield to explore the very unique island distilleries.
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